Monday, 2 June 2014

World's best book-staircase (with tiger)

Seen at the Hackney Pirates, an excellent organisation in East London that aims to make reading, writing and learning in general more fun. I've been volunteering for them for a while so I'm completely biased, but still, their new book-staircase is just amazing. I'm trying to find out the names of the artists who made it - all their work is stunning, they made an excellent pirate-themed fake book-case with a secret door as well.

When I first volunteered with the Hackney Pirates, they were running a summer school for local children on a rooftop in Dalston. I then followed them through a series of unconventional classrooms: a room with a chicken coop just outside the window (gawk gawk gawwwwk), an empty building transformed into a pirates' ship, a make-shift beach shack next to a kebab shop with incredibly supportive owners who let the Pirates hold volunteer meetings in the shop. This year they've finally got a permanent ship, a building on Dalston high street complete with a shop, a cafe and a lovely educational space. And a book-staircase.

Instead of the rooftop summer school, there are now daily afternoon sessions. During the first half of the session, children do their homework or read a book; during the second half, they work on a creative project. Each child is paired with a volunteer to help and encourage them. It's a very simple formula and it works. I've seen so many young Pirates gain confidence, improve their reading and develop a new enthusiasm for learning over the years. I used to be quite a cynic about these things so it's been a good learning experience for me as well. If you're interested in becoming a volunteer, just visit their website and sign up for a training session. See you on the rainbow-coloured steps!

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